While Fischer Takes the Blame, RNC Israel Trip Will Be Led By An Even More Influential Christian Nationalist

Much has been made of RNC chairman Reince Priebus and 60 members of the Republican National Committee taking a trip to Israel under the sponsorship of the SPLC-certified hate group American Family Association (AFA). But while AFA has tried to minimalize the controversy by firing Director of Issue Analysis Bryan Fischer (although he’ll continue hosting their radio program), the right-wing operative actually hosting the trip is a less known, but much more significant player.

This duplicity of those on the Right known for loudly declaring their love for Israel in an effort to inoculate their activism from charges of Christian supremacism has become increasingly transparent thanks to the RNC’s trip. Waving Israeli flags at rallies may no longer be enough to camouflage an agenda that attacks the rights of American Jews and those of other faiths

The host of the RNC’s trip, and the man we should be more concerned about, is David Lane, head of the American Renewal Project at the AFA. While Bryan Fischer has received most of the public notoriety for declaring that only Christians should have free exercise of religion and that immigrants should be forced to convert to Christianity, David Lane’s work has successfully flown under the radar—until now.

Christian Right political operative David Lane

Christian Right political operative David Lane

David Lane: Wage War to Restore a Christian America

Lane just finished up his duties organizing The Response in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a religio-political rally headlined by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and funded by AFA.  Lane, a self-declared political operative, has mostly stayed out of the limelight for the last decade, while hosting over 10,000 pastors in more than 10 states encouraging pastors to run for office, known as “Pastors’ Policy Briefings” or “Pastors and Pews.”  These briefings are often held over a couple of days in luxury hotels, with all-expenses-paid for pastors and their spouses, and have featured numerous politicians. For example, one event last year in Iowa featured Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) (and his father) and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R), and was also attended by billionaire brothers Dan and Farris Wilks. Another Iowa event on the schedule for this coming March will include Jindal and Cruz.

As noted by PRA Fellow Frederick Clarkson, Lane’s rhetoric has become increasingly militant. An article by Lane later removed from the WorldNetDaily website was titled “Wage War to Restore a Christian America.”

As to the future of America – and the collapse of this once-Christian nation – Christians must not only be allowed to have opinions, but politically, Christians must be retrained to war for the Soul of America and quit believing the fabricated whopper of the “Separation of Church and State,” the lie repeated ad nauseum by the left and liberals to keep Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.

Lane frequently quotes Christian Reconstructionist Peter Leithart’s call for Christian martyrs, and says“Christianity has always been persecuted beginning in Acts 4 and throughout 2000 years of history.” According to Lane, the only exception is in the U.S., where Christians have had religious and civil liberty for about 200 years, but he adds that Christian America is now in ruins, “destroyed by liberal secularists.”  He equates the supposed failure of Christian America to fight back against secularism with the failure of the church of Germany to fight back against the rising Nazi party.

Gene Mills, head of the Tony Perkins-founded Louisiana Family Forum, presents Governor Bobby Jindal with the "Gladiator Award"

Gene Mills, head of the Tony Perkins-founded Louisiana Family Forum, presents Governor Bobby Jindal with the “Gladiator Award”

Events organized by Lane have also featured calls for like-minded Christians to “take back” government and society.  One of the organizers of The Response in LA was Gene Mills, head of the Tony Perkins-founded Louisiana Family Forum.  During his speech, Mills challenged the audience to take back the “seven mountains” from “enemy occupation.” This is a reference to a campaign marketed internationally for like-minded Christians to take control over society by taking dominion over arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion.  Mills presents annual awards each year to politicians who support the organization’s agenda, a number that he says has quadrupled during his tenure.  This past year he awarded the sword for the “Gladiator Award” to Gov. Jindal.

A Christian Nationalist Rewriting of History

AFA’s Bryan Fischer, at the heart of the RNC trip controversy, is known for his virulent homophobia. In Fischer’s version of Nazi history, Adoph Hitler himself was an active homosexual, who recruited other homosexuals.  Therefore, in his version of history, homosexuals were not victims but the villains of the Holocaust.

Lane has taken politicians to Israel, including former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) and Rand Paul, and is credited with helping the latter improve his credentials with evangelicals.  This past November, Lane hosted a group of “political and faith leaders” on a trip to Europe, including former Arkansas Governor and Fox News personality Mike Huckabee, as well as pastors from Iowa and South Carolina. The trip was dubbed “The Journey: A Spiritual Awakening,” and the itinerary included sites related to the lives of Pope John Paul II, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, and concluded at the Ronald Reagan Library.

Also on the trip was Floyd Brown, founder of Citizens United and the political operative behind the infamous Willie Horton ad and the ExposeObama website. Brown wrote about the trip in an article titled “Huckabee Declaring Holy War?,” and quotes Huckabee as calling for resistance against tyranny.  But the tyranny they claim to be fighting is that of President Obama’s administration and the “cultural Marxism” that Lane believes is part of a communist plot to indoctrinate Americans.

Stops at Auschwitz and Birkenau were also included, but they were spun by Lane and Huckabee and (as well as in coverage of the trip by conservative media) as a warning to rise up against encroaching threats in America.  An article in the Christian Post about the trip equated the actions of the Nazis with America today, saying, “The comparison to America could not be more blantant. The article quoted Austrian-born Kitty Werthmann, president of the North Dakota chapter of the Eagle Forum, the anti-ERA organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, who gives speeches based on her claimed experiences in Nazi-occupied Austria and portraying Hitler as a leftist who abolished free enterprise and insisted on “equal rights for women”

Inoculating Christian Nationalism with Christian Zionism

Many Christians feel affinity with the Holy Land and the state of Israel, but Christian Zionism refers to activism attempting to hasten the second coming of Jesus, and helping Jews along with the role they are supposed to play in the drama of the end times. In recent decades, leaders embracing Dominion Theology have often rejected Christian Zionism, but some Charismatic Christians have embraced a different form of dominionism that couples aggressive Christian triumphalism with “pro-Israel” activism. In this hybrid narrative, Jews must be converted (particularly in Israel) to bring about Jesus’ kingdom on earth.

Although this brand of Charismatic dominionism is sweeping the globe like wildfire, many Jewish leaders either remain unaware of its agenda, or are hesitant to criticize the religious bigotry of those labelled pro-Israel.  The Israeli flag waving, shofar blowing, and Messianic music are sometimes mistaken as affection, when these are actually expressions of Christian triumphalism and a strategy to build Messianic congregations and communities. (Messianics are Jews who convert to Christianity but retain trappings of Judaism and a Jewish identity.)

This coupling of Christian nationalism with pro-Zionist activism is most visible among the modern-day “apostles” of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), many of whom helped David Lane organize, market, and lead The Response prayer rallies headlined by Rick Perry in 2011 and Bobby Jindal last week.  At both of these events, a designated “prayer for Israel” segment of the program included overt calls for the conversion of Jews.  At the Perry event in 2011, the call was made by Apostle Don Finto and Marty Waldman, rabbi of one of the nation’s largest Messianic congregations.  Finto is known for his role in promoting the “Israel Mandate” directing Christians to support Messianics.

The leader of the afternoon segment of Perry’s 2011 all-day prayer rally was Mike Bickle, head of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, an international youth-oriented ministry that also prioritizes the Israel Mandate.  The Response events were patterned after, and incorporated leaders from, TheCall, a tax-affiliated ministry of IHOP led by Lou Engle. TheCall holds large-venue events around the world that include prayers for conversion of Jews, including TheCall Jerusalem in 2008.

At David Lane’s prayer rally last weekend, the Prayer For Israel speakers included Rosemary Schindler, a distant relative of Oskar Schindler and a prominent speaker among Christian Zionists and Messianics. Last year, Rosemary married Jim Garlow, a pastor who organized support for California’s Proposition 8. Another speaker at Lane’s rally shouted, “We declare as a united body, revival in the land of Israel in the name of Jesus!”  (Garlow also spoke at both Perry and Jindal’s rally.)

This shift in theology has resulted in ugly undertones of religious bigotry among people who claim to love Israel, and a new acceptability in evangelizing Jews.  For example, the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MJBI), led primarily by NAR apostles and Messianics (including Rabbi Marty Waldman), featured Glenn Beck in 2012 at their annual gala and fundraiser. The following year the event featured former President George W. Bush.

The RNC’s trip with Lane will be accompanied by popular Messianic writer Joel Rosenberg, who also calls for the evangelization of Jews and has recently immigrated to Israel.  The Haaretz article also quoted David Lane from a past interview with Glenn Beck saying “Restoring America to our Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establishing a Christian culture is the only way that we get out of where we are.”

Haaretz published an oped I wrote in August, 2011, when Glenn Beck was hosting events in Israel.  Beck had already alienated many American Jews with the promotion of virulently anti-Semitic writers and an attack on George Soros using anti-Semitic memes. His anti-Semitic words caused a protest from 400 rabbis, representing all four branches of Judaism. In the op-ed, I warned that Beck’s embrace by Israeli leaders would be further indication to Americans that support for Israel is linked to an extremist political agenda in the United States—one that threatens to further alienate both Jews and Christians, Democrats and Republicans.  Likewise, Reince Priebus and the RNC’s trip with David Lane risk further alienating not only American Jews, but all Americans who value religious pluralism and the separation of church and state.

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Party-Switching Theocrat Wins Primary, Claims Maryland Legislature is Invalid & Talks Revolution

A few months ago, former Constitution Party members Michael Peroutka (the Party’s 2004 presidential candidate) and David Whitney (his pastor and close confidant) teamed-up to run for local office in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Peroutka ran in the GOP primary for County Council, and for GOP Central Committee; while Whitney ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the same seat on the County Council, and for a seat on the Democratic Party’s Central Committee. Whitney lost decisively in both of his races, while Peroutka won a seat on the Republican Party Central Committee, effective July 5th, and if results hold after absentee and provisional ballots are counted, Peroutka will be the Republican nominee on the November ballot for County Council.

Michael Peroutka

Michael Peroutka

While PRA has worked to expose this remarkable story for several months (as has the Southern Poverty Law Center), the mainstream press’ first real exposé came out just before the election. On June 24, the weekend before the primary, The Baltimore Sun dug into the views of the theocratic pair, pointing out Peroutka and Whitney’s efforts to distance themselves from the racist, secessionist, League of the South (both are members). League president Michael Hill endorsed them anyway.

The day after the primary, Peroutka issued a pronouncement that is likely to make his fellow Republicans, to say the very least, uneasy. In his regular broadcast of The American View, he suggested that all of the laws of the state of Maryland may be invalid, because the state legislature is an invalid body of government for having considered initiatives that, in his view, “violate God’s Law.”

“For the past few years,” Peroutka declared, “the behavior of the legislature in my home state of Maryland raises the question whether the people of Maryland may be justified in reaching the conclusion that what we call our “General Assembly” is no longer a valid legislative body.

And if the case can be made that the legislature of Maryland or of your state is not a valid body, then, it follows that no validity should be given to any of its enactments.”

As we reported here at PRA regarding the pair’s seemingly inexplicable campaigns, Peroutka’s partner in the Institute on the Constitution, David Whitney, expressed a similar view in testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the State Senate, when it was considering marriage equality in 2011. He argued that if the legislature passed marriage equality, it would invalidate the entire state government and, thus, state laws should no longer be honored.

“Is it possible that those who are sworn to uphold the law, such as police and sheriffs and judges and prosecutors, may soon come to the conclusion that the enactments of this body,” Peroutka rhetorically asked, speaking of the state legislature, “should be ignored because they are based not in law, but in lawlessness? Indeed what can the people do—what should the people do when those who are entrusted with making and enforcing the law actually become the lawbreakers? What happens when they use the ‘law’ to break the law?”

This kind of call for defiance of state and federal law, and particularly of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, have a long history among Peroutka’s colleagues in the Constitution Party. In 1996, for example, the Constitution Party’s Vice Presidential candidate, Herb Titus, told me at a press conference that lower-level government officials (called “lesser magistrates” in the archaic language of the ideas on which his views are based), may refuse to enforce ungodly laws and policies of the government, and rise up against a government that has become corrupt or tyrannical. (I discuss this further in my book Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, Common Courage Press, 1997.)

Larry Pratt, head of Gun Owners of America, agreed on the first page of his 1995 book Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Citizen Militias that county sheriffs and other state and local officials need armed militias “to resist any tyrannical act on the part of the federal government.”

The first example Peroutka, in his video, gives of ungodly law and the need for resistance is abortion.  He declares that for law to be valid it has to be consistent with God’s Laws.  He offers as an example, “an enactment that allowed the taking of innocent life would violate God’s Commandment ‘Thou shalt not murder,’ and would, therefore, not constitute a law…” In the video, an image of a front page The New York Times report on the 1973 legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court scrolls by—followed by an image of a fetus in the womb.

He accuses the Maryland state legislature of, quoting the Declaration of Independence, “a long train of abuses and usurpations.” This is significant in part because the sentence goes on to say that this “Despotism” leads to the right and duty to, “throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

In a June 17th broadcast of The American View, he was even more explicit, arguing “When our local officials, including County Councilmen and Sheriffs, confront such “pretended legislation,” as the Declaration of Independence referred to invalid laws, “it is their duty to resist its implementation.”

Peroutka’s intentions are as unambiguous as they are eccentric, by the standards of most people across a wide spectrum of religious and political thought. But he is far from alone in thinking that resistance, including violence, and secessionist civil war may be necessary. His colleague David Whitney has been clear on the point, as have certain other leaders of the Christian Right. (See PRA’s recent report, Rumblings of Theocratic Violence.)

Peroutka borrows from the Declaration and other texts to justify a contemporary revolutionary view: that local law enforcement officers, led by county councilmen, should resist  the laws and the authority of the government of the United States, and the state of Maryland. From the standpoint of theocratic, secessionist revolution, that would certainly be a start.

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Conservatism: Racism When You Need It

2012 primary debate

In the Winter 1999 issue of The Public Eye Magazine, PRA printed an excerpt from Founder and President Emerita Jean Hardisty’s book Mobilizing Resentment: Conservative Resurgence from the John Birch Society to the Promise Keepers. In it, Hardisty discussed affirmative action, providing the history of its conception along with the Right-Wing’s stance against the policy.

After the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Lyndon Johnson and his administration sought to eliminate discrimination in the hiring and promotion process by issuing Executive Order 11246, which required affirmation action from employers who had contracts with the federal government, and sanctions for the ones who didn’t. In 1972, Richard Nixon signed into law Congress’s Equal Opportunity Act, which expanded anti-discrimination protections for women and people of color. The Right, of course, cried “reverse discrimination” then, and is still finding ways to explain the “needlessness” for affirmative action now.

One of the Right’s tactics that Hardisty examined was their appropriation of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech, which conservatives still interpret as an endorsement for colorblind ideology. The right has warped MLK from a radical for justice into essentially these few words: “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” They ignore the context of this quote, which addressed King’s opposition to White power, the root cause for judgment of race in the first place. In his 1964 book, Why Can’t We Wait, however, he made it evident that race is very important because, unless people of color are provided some type of assistance, their rights will never meet with that of White people’s. King wrote:

It is obvious that if a man is entering the starting line in a race three hundred years after another man, the first would have to perform some impossible feat in order to catch up with his fellow runner.

Hardisty discussed how the right had undergone a transformation in the 1980s, which created a “new racism.” Rather than upholding Jim Crow laws and practices—something that had “declined steadily since the 1940s”—the right attempted to use policies like affirmative action against people of color, utilizing a colorblind argument. This new racism, ignoring a person’s race, and suggesting that group identifiers are “unnecessary”—that cultural backgrounds have no place in today’s society because “racism is a thing of the past”— modernized discrimination in the hiring process.

Republicans, especially White male Republicans, expect marginalized groups to be able to rise above oppression on their own accord because, in their minds, race should not affect their merit and skill.

During the 2012 presidential primaries, Republican candidates played to this colorblind strategy. Mitt Romney objected to the extension of voting rights for convicted felons, despite it being “an issue that disproportionately affects African-American and Hispanic males…[as] a direct result of…the drug wars implemented during the Reagan administration.” Newt Gingrich, when asked by Juan Williams about why Newt insisted on “talk[ing] about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps,” said he did not see why it was an insult to Black Americans. Rick Santorum, during one of his campaign stops, offered the statement, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.” These Republicans refused to consider that institutionalized racism caused much of the disparities between White people and people of color—that somehow Black and Latino Americans were content with living off food stamps, or that they expected to be given free money, which are racist stereotypes and assumptions in and of itself.

Hardisty then went on to note the distancing of the Right from the Far Right’s White supremacy philosophy throughout the 1980s. While the Far Right—White supremacists and neo-Nazis—had no issue with openly promoting “White rights,” the Right Wing attempted to remove themselves from bigoted attitudes and activities. The New Right Republicans of the time, if discovered making racial slurs, were denounced quickly by their leaders and prompted to apologize soon afterward. This trend of immediate condemnation of racist statements made by conservatives is still present today. Some recent examples of this include:

By protesting against the most egregious of violations within their own Party, Republicans can defend against accusations of racism against themselves. To them, eradicating affirmative action is nothing like the overt racist language of their prejudiced peers.

Affirmative action cases are being closely watched today because of how race issues in the United States have developed. The Justices appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George Bush—according to Jean Hardisty—have created a rightist tilt, and thus have halted much of the progress made by civil rights leaders. Evidence of this is found in their lack of ruling on the case at the University of Texas and their divided opinions on how to handle the case for Michigan schools.

In situations where affirmative action has already been banned, statistics show decreases in enrollment numbers of students of color, particularly for Black students. At the University of Michigan, Black student enrollment dropped 30 percent in their undergraduate and law schools after they prohibited race as a factor for consideration. After California’s passing of Proposition 209 in 1996, University of California schools found major drops as well; the percentage of first year Black students at UC Berkeley fell from 6.5 percent to under 3 percent in 10 years, and UCLA first years dropped from 7.3 percent to under 2.7 percent. The University of Florida also saw a decrease from 11.3 percent to 9.4 percent from 2000 to 2005 after the policy was changed.

Comparably, because the public-sector has historically provided fair and impartial job opportunities for women and people of color, government jobs show far more diversity than private institutions. Not only are the proportions of public-sector workers more balanced, they “face smaller wage disparities across racial lines” as well.

Hardisty noted that recipients of programs such as welfare and affirmative action are met with shaming by Right-Wing politicians. They were labeled as “‘undeserving’ individuals” who benefited “at the expense of ‘deserving’ taxpayers.” Present-day conservatives continue this victim-blaming and colorblind practice. During his 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney called the “47 percent” who were going to vote for Barack Obama entitled, that they believed the “government has a responsibility to care for them.” He continued, “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” His statements were echoed by Glenn Beck, who said on his radio show, “That is the problem with government welfare and everything else, get a damn job,” and Newt Gingrich, who said “[Republicans] believe in work and education, [liberals] believe in food stamps and dependency.

The Right readily pretends that racial injustice does not exist, and that anyone can overcome obstacles if they simply tried hard enough, which is blatantly false.

In discussing how White the Right is, it is important to understand there are conservatives of color. Jean Hardisty discussed how they “play a politically important role in the Right’s attack on affirmative action.” By using a person of color, especially a Black person, to make their argument publicly, White conservatives can then use the “legitimacy” of that argument to back their own hostility. Denouncing affirmative action appears more authentic when a person of color says they have no need for it. White conservatives can shield themselves from the adverse reactions of people for trying to dismantle these policies.

It wasn’t hard to find examples. Just take a look at this year’s Values Voters Summit, when Dr. Ben Carson compared the Affordable Health Care Act to slavery. His talking point was immediately embraced by White conservatives such as Bill O’Brien, John Fleming, Rush Limbaugh, and more who would never have dared make such an audacious comparison on their own. His Blackness allows White republicans to say that their Black representative was the one to issue such a statement, not them. They can hide in the background—the focus on conservatives of color—while supporting the racist proclamations made by people such as Ben Carson.

When former Democrat Elbert Guillory announced why he switched to the Republican Party, calling for other Black Americans to abandon the “government plantation and the [liberal] party of disappointment,” pundits such as Glenn Beck had no issue publishing about it as if it were a step in the right direction.

Conservative activist Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, posted an article on his website that said, “Wanting a White Republican president doesn’t make you racist, it just makes you American,” written by Kevin Jackson, a Black conservative. Rather than writing this piece himself, Wurzelbacher used Jackson’s article as a means to voice his own opinions without taking on full responsibility.

Some members of the Right ironically reject affirmative action while favoring racist policies such as racial profiling. Writer and columnist Victor Davis Hanson wrote a piece that advised individuals to “watch out if you see young black men on the street or approaching your house or vehicle—they commit ‘an inordinate amount of violent crime.’” On the other hand, he does not favor affirmative action, offering the question, “what exactly is the justification for affirmative action’s ethnic preferences or admissions [?]”

Conservatives claim that by discussing the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, President Obama is “race baiting;” yet they are colorblind when it comes to acknowledging the racial disparities that Black Americans go through in the United States, such as New York City’s Stop and Frisk program. Colorblindness ignores the racial discrimination that people of color go through on a daily basis.

As racial justice gains more in ways of equality, the right will continue to push back against it. While it’s clear conservatives continue their firm colorblind belief that any individual, regardless of race, can earn their way into a higher institution of learning or the workforce, revealing their hypocrisy and showing the actual race issues people of color face is the only way to make progress.

Sharone Belt: The Obamacare Story You Won’t See In The News

If you watch cable news, you’ve probably seen story after story about Americans losing their insurance plans thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare.” Despite the passage of the ACA into law in 2010, and despite the Supreme Court’s decision in 2012 to uphold the legislation, and even despite the failed attempt to use a government shutdown as a bargaining chip—Right-Wing Republicans in Congress, governors’ mansions, and state legislatures are continuing their push to blame Obamacare for Americans losing health coverage.

But what about the Americans who didn’t have any health insurance to begin with, and are now being denied acceptance into Medicaid by those same conservatives? There are five million of them, people who have jobs but aren’t paid enough for private health insurance, being left out in the cold by the Right-Wing. On cable news, you don’t hear about people like Sharone Belt in North Carolina, who is being denied healthcare thanks to conservatives.

These are the stories we cannot in good conscience ignore.

Sharone Belt, 47, can't get health insurance because her state refused to expand Medicaid

Sharone Belt, 47, can’t get health insurance to cover her diabetic neuropathy because her state refused to expand Medicaid

Sharone Belt is 47 years old and lives in Hickory, North Carolina. She’s a deacon candidate at her church, collects donations for the local homeless shelter, and volunteers for the Special Olympics and Make-a-Wish Foundation. Sharone took some college classes when she was younger, but even with help from grants and student loans, she was priced out of her education pretty quickly. She now works as a balloon twister at children’s parties and restaurants to make ends meet.

“It’s not a job that pays very well,” says Sharone, “but I love working with the kids.”

Picking up as many gigs as she can, Sharone has managed to get herself just above the poverty line, making a little too much to qualify for Medicaid under the old system, but far too little to be able to afford private health insurance. Sharone also suffers from diabetes, which has led to diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) because she can’t afford the medications she needs. It’s a particularly difficult thing for her to work with, given her profession.

“I tried to use the free clinic in town,” says Sharone, “it took me six months just to get an appointment, and when I did get in, the medications I need are so expensive the free clinic wasn’t even able to get them for me.”

When the Affordable Care Act was passed, Sharone thought maybe there was finally some light at the end of the tunnel. “I was so excited, I thought maybe I could finally get my health back on track.”

Last week, Sharone found out that North Carolina is one of the 25 states refusing to expand Medicaid to cover people, like her, who are just above the poverty line. Back in March, conservative Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation that blocked Medicaid expansion for 500,000 North Carolinians, like Sharone, who don’t make enough money to purchase healthcare on their own, but don’t qualify for Medicaid, either. According to a report from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, Medicaid expansion in North Carolina would have not only provided coverage for 500,000 low-income Tar Heelers but would also have added tens of thousands of jobs thanks to the injection of federal dollars. McCrory’s decision also caused a hospital in Belhaven to close, after it couldn’t keep up with unpaid medical bills from low-income patients.

Conservatives argue participation in Medicaid expansion, allowing those who make up to 133 percent of the federal poverty limit access to the healthcare program, would bankrupt states. The claim has been repeated in media outlets around the country, despite policy experts debunking it as a conservative myth being perpetuated by ideological beliefs rather than facts. The ACA actually covers the cost of expanding Medicaid 100 percent for the first three years states participate, after which federal dollars slightly curtail over the next decade. Even at the lowest point of federal funding, states would only be liable for 10 percent of the cost of the expansion in their state, but still reap 100 percent of the benefits of not having a populace burdened by the under-insured.

To add to Sharone’s woes, she was also just notified that Congress has made significant cuts to Food Stamps, which is going to make it even harder for her to put food on the table—another instance of the Right-Wing’s assault on the poor under the pretext of “fiscal responsibility” and “small government.”

“I’m just not sure what I’m going to do next,” says Sharone. Even with all the hardship she’s facing, still manages to keep a sense of humor and giggle as she asks, “Think there’s any chance Congress will pass a single-payer system soon?”

Sharone’s story is only one of 5 million from across the country. From the 500,000 people being denied coverage in North Carolina, to the 133,000 in Utah, to the 40,000 in Alaska, the stories of the working poor being denied healthcare are everywhere. Why don’t we hear about them on the nightly news?

Nazism, Godwin’s Law, and the Far Right

obama hitler

There is an internet adage coined in the 1990s by Mike Godwin called Godwin’s Law. The rule states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the possibility of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” This adage is often invoked to signal desperation in an argument. The use of such inappropriate and hyperbolic language suggests the side making the comparison has exhausted any substantive rhetorical devices.

Among the Far Right’s favorite phraseological bricks to throw at anything or anyone they do not approve of are the terms “Nazi” and “Hitler.” Comparisons to Hitler and Nazism are nothing new in politics, and people from both the Far Left to the Far Right have invoked the Third Reich for comparative fodder for decades. In 2011 Rep. Steven Cohen (D-TN) compared Republican plans to repeal Obamacare to Nazism and the Holocaust. George H.W. Bush called Saddam Hussein the “new Hitler,” while building support for Desert Storm.

Members of the Far Right, however, outshine their peers in their cavalier and demagogic use of Nazi terminology.

This name-calling phenomenon is a good example of using a word to invoke a meaning that does not reflect the actual nature of a concept. Instead, it reflects an attempt to conflate anything the Far Right finds objectionable with Nazism. But the Far Right leaders’ use of Nazi terminology is not thoughtless. Their practice of invoking Nazism and Hitler is both shrewd and fraught.

There are political benefits to reducing something as complex and nuanced as the current state of the United States to being a direct analogue to the Third Reich. At this year’s Values Voters Summit (VVS), former Arkansas legislator Jim Bob Duggar compared the current state of the U.S. to Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, saying “that’s where we are at in our nation.” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has compared those skeptical about defunding Obamacare to “Nazi appeasers.” By using Nazi terminology and conflating it with anything “bad”, people such as Duggar and Cruz are able to conceal conceptual complexity under rhetoric that is both inflammatory and simplistic.

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer and anti-LGBTQ crusader Scott Lively both claim gays were responsible for the Nazi Party and the Holocaust (suggesting an understanding of German history based solely on Mel Brook’s The Producers). Fischer also claims LGBTQ Americans are “literally” Nazis and will launch a new Spanish Inquisition. Glenn Beck was quoted on Honest Questions With D.L. Hughley saying, “ I think Jesus Christ and Hitler had a lot in common, and that was they could both look you in the eye and say, ‘I’ve got an answer for you, follow me.’ One was evil; one was good.” Mixed metaphors such as Fischer’s and Beck’s are par for the course when talking about the Far Right and Nazi terminology.

The Far Right’s weaponized soundbites are, on one hand, an attempt to vilify anything they disapprove of by linking the issue in question to one of the darkest moments in history. Institutions and people that the Far Right have compared to Nazis and/or Hitler include: the IRS, feminists, NPR, religious pluralism, secularism, Boy Scouts, Obamacare, gun laws and background checks, and abortion. Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel has cited an “exact comparison between those who stood by silently during the Nazi Holocaust and those who today stand by silently and allow, accept the abortion holocaust.” Again, a mixed metaphor, but in a way, whether or not such comparisons hold up to scrutiny does not matter. Mention of Nazi Germany can engender a reflexive and involuntary sense of disapproval that allows Far Right leaders to bypass conceptual complexity and accuracy in favor of a passionate knee-jerk response.

Nazi rhetoric also justifies an evangelical, pre-millennial dispensational ideology. Many people thought that Hitler and the Third Reich were a sign of the end times, and that no atrocity could be more horrific. If humanity is going to usher in the end times and the second coming of Christ, humanity must be in a state that rivals or is worse than that during the Third Reich. Pat Robertson speaks to this effect, having stated that the “abortion holocaust” has been more lethal than Hitler’s Holocaust. Truth In Action has also released content claiming that the US “is becoming Nazi Germany.”

Along these lines, another way to look at this rhetorical phenomenon is how it represents an ideal for the Far Right. It seems that they wish that the United States were more like the Third Reich. Such conditions would create a call to action they so desperately desire. If, in the U.S., Christians were being persecuted like the Nazis persecuted Jews, if homosexuals were Nazis, and if abortion provided a direct corollary to the Holocaust, then the Far Right might be justified in their outrage. This idea is reflected in the hypothetical nature of a lot of the Nazi rhetoric being used by the Far Right. Glenn Beck has commented on how the Obama administration could “shut down the Tea Party” and “round up” Tea Party members like Hitler did to the Jews. It isn’t happening, but it would justify Beck’s rancor if it were.

In a way, the Far Right is attempting to reverse engineer a Nazi state by labeling anything they disapprove of as an analogue to the Third Reich. Far Right leaders wish to invoke Nazism as a way to justify their vitriolic hatred of any number of diverse groups, people, and ideas.

Labels create a favorable condition in which complex, nuanced, and often abstract ideas can be reduced to simple words and concepts. They are often useful for groups of people who want to gain political room, but can be problematic and reductive when a person or a group of people let the word choose the meaning, instead of the other way around. The Far Right ignores the loaded nature of such terminology, choosing to use Nazi rhetoric to evoke passionate fear and anger. From an outside perspective, though, the Far Right’s use of Nazi terminology seems to suggest a group of people who have lost an argument and have resorted to petty name-calling. So while the Far Right may be using Nazi terminology for a purpose, that purpose seems mainly to be desperation.

From 1996 to 2013: Conservative Attacks on Women of Color Evolve

Conservative attacks on women of color's reproductive rights are now moving in the opposite direction

Conservative attacks on women of color’s reproductive rights are now moving in the opposite direction

In 2000, former Political Research Associates researcher Pam Chamberlain and Founder and President Emerita Jean Hardisty discussed the role that race and class play in regards to the reproductive rights of women of color and how they are affected by right-wing anti-choice doctrine.

Unlike White women, women of color deal with sexism and misogyny as well as racism. This extra layer of prejudice manifests itself in the form of negative stereotypes of Black, Latina, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Native American women. Consider the stereotype of the “welfare queen”—first coined by Ronald Reagan in 1996—and how it led to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which punished women living on welfare with its “family cap,” if they were to have multiple children.

Chamberlain and Hardisty delved into the history of the eugenics movement of the 19th century, where damaging policies such as the PRWORA date back. Women of color, poor women, and immigrant women were all subjected to racist theories that deemed them “unfit” in comparison to “fit” White women. Advocates pushed for lower birthrates in these women, using extreme measures such as sterilization.

Chamberlain and Hardisty noted how doctors urged women of color to have abortions in order to minimize the number of children of color being birthed; they even went so far as to sterilize these women without their consent, by manipulating or outright lying to them. By the 1970s, about 33 percent of Latina women from Puerto Rico and 25 percent of American Indian women on reservations had been sterilized.

Today, however, a new wave of the anti-choice Right Wing has emerged. This generation of conservatives is now marching in the opposite direction of their predecessors.

Instead of sterilizing women of color and pressing them to get abortions, anti-choice advocates are telling them that they should not consider undergoing abortion procedures at all, using, once again, racist stereotypes as their basis.

One example of the Right’s new strategy is the law in Arizona that claims women of color cannot be trusted with abortions. Supporters of the law assert that Black women’s higher abortion rates is “evidence” they are trying to prevent the births of Black children, and that the sex-selective abortions in various parts of Asia mean that Asian-American women, because of their race, would discriminate when it came to abortions too.

In 2011, billboards plastered around New York City used shame tactics to sway Black women from seeking out abortions. One such billboard in SoHo had the quote: “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”

Right Wing conservatives claim they aren’t racist against women of color when they restrict their reproductive rights, and that they actually hope “fewer minority women [will] have abortions [so it will lead] to more minority children.”

The last two presidential election cycles have produced dismal conservative support for the Right among communities of color. But rather than genuine outreach to gain support in these communities, conservatives have elected to employ tactics that will only make them appear to care about race issues. In reality, they don’t.

Instead of losing the right to bear children, women of color are now losing the right not to; they continue to have no agency when it comes to this matter.

The Right’s limits on abortion have affected all women, but women of color are suffering more due to race—especially if they are poor and of the working class.

The relative ease in which to receive an abortion has been stifled: cuts in public funding, the shutting down of abortion clinics, and the costly and lengthy process to go through with the procedure are major obstacles for women of color.

Whether it was attacks on women of color in the 1990s, or the renewed efforts in the opposite direction today, U.S. conservatives are refining their tactical attacks on women of color everywhere.

Rand Paul’s Islamophobic Speeches a Ploy to Win Over Conservatives

Sen Rand Paul speaks at the 2013 Values Voters Summit

Sen. Rand Paul speaks at the 2013 Values Voters Summit

At the recent Values Voters Summit, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke on the “War on Christianity”, but his speech was not about prayer in schools or the so-called ‘war on Christmas,’ his focus was radical Islam. Our live blog of the summit outlines his argument, which stresses that Christians around the world are being threatened by “a fanatical element of Islam,” and used isolated incidents of violence against Christians as an excuse to paint every Muslim worldwide as radical and evil. The speech has been widely condemned as hateful, bigoted, and wildly inaccurate.

In all likelihood, his hyperbolic war rhetoric was simply a dramatic attempt to broaden his support beyond the libertarian wing of the GOP to curry favor with the wider Tea Party movement, neoconservatives, and the Christian Right. If so, it is a dangerous game.

This is not the first time Rand Paul has used the threat of a radical Islam boogeyman for political advantage. His PAC ran advertisements against Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), attacking foreign aid to Egypt, Libya, and Pakistan, and painting the governments and citizens of those states as “Anti-American regimes and radical jihadists.” He has also argued for those that attend radical speeches promoting the overthrow of their governments to be deported or put in prison. All the while, Paul continues to support American citizens who continually and frequently threaten to overthrow the U.S. government. While Paul does not attack Islam nearly as much as some of his Tea Party colleagues, he is no stranger to using Islam for political advantage. Not only has he attacked Muslims before, but he gave a very similar speech back in June, at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. This message is nothing new, but it is being hammered home.

What is consistently and glaringly missing from Paul’s anti-Muslim speeches is any mention of the multitude of attacks by Christians against Muslims, or most other faiths for that matter. There is still, for example, widespread discrimination against Muslims in Bulgaria, a predominantly Christian country. This does not mean that there is a ‘War on Islam,’ but neither do Paul’s examples prove a ‘war on Christianity.’

According to Paul, the “war on Christians … came to Boston this year just in time for the marathon”. Beyond the awful phrasing used, he then goes on to completely undermine his argument, admitting that the bombers didn’t target Christians specifically. Despite this admission, he suggests that the motive of the bombing was to attack “us as a people, a Christian people.” Not only is that logic insulting to religious freedom in the U.S., but logically makes any terrorist attack against Americans an assault on a particular faith, rather than on our people as a whole and on our nation.

Beyond simply attacking Islamic radicalism, his other stated goal is to stop the U.S. giving “giving aid and comfort” to these countries, with an emphasis on aid. With specific mentions of refusing aid to the Muslim Brotherhood, and halting the arming of rebels in Syria, he is moving closer to the Tea Party consensus on those issues, whilst still offering his libertarian base spending reductions. One of his more bizarre statements was that “I say not one penny more to countries that burn our flag,” referring to an incident in Egypt in which private citizens, not the Egyptian government, burned a U.S. flag. Obviously, withdrawing foreign aid designed to assist in the prevention of widespread poverty and disease for such reasons would establish an absurd precedent.

Assuming he did not make this speech purely out of a conviction that Islam threatens Christianity, why would Paul use a speech at the Values Voters Summit to attack Islam, rather than talk about the much more topical government shutdown?  Considering the audience at the summit, an audience that is not traditionally libertarian, the reasons becomes clearer. This is just one speech in a process of “quietly making himself acceptable to the ‘conservative mainstream.’” One of Paul’s and the libertarian movement’s most striking weaknesses within the GOP is foreign policy. To the largely hawkish Republican mainstream, and the similarly inclined Tea Party movement, the stances of Rand Paul and his father Ron Paul before him have, by and large, been unpalatable. By accusing Islamic states of supporting a radical “war on Christianity,” Paul has found a common scapegoat. Alongside the ‘strong’ foreign policy stance against these Islamic nations, his narrative also matches the tone of the Christian Right, alleging that Christianity is under fire, even if the circumstances in Egypt are utterly unlike any situation in the US. In covering so much popular ground, Paul may be increasing his chances in a possible GOP presidential primary, at only a slight risk of alienating his base.

With only 6% of the vote in the Values Voters straw poll, Paul hardly won over the crowd. Despite trying to find common ground in his speech, more Far Right conservative candidates, including Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, proved considerably more popular. Nevertheless, through the cherry-picking of instances of religious violence, Rand Paul has brought himself closer to the Tea Party movement as a whole.

Conservative Ideology Not Overtly Racist, But More Insidious

Photo Credit: Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune. Published with permission

Photo Credit: Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune. Published with permission

More and more, we’ve seen U.S. conservatives unabashedly propagate revisionist historical narratives while shrugging off accusations of racism.  Over the past year, public policies and political ideologies targeting communities of color—cuts to assistance programs, opposition to immigration reform, efforts to abolish the 14th Amendment, and voter ID laws have all gained mainstream acceptance within the Republican Party. Conservatives in Congress, state legislatures, and in the courts have embraced policies that disproportionately target and hurt communities of color, even as they seek to discount or dismiss the racialized implications of such policies.

As Allison Kilkenny, co-host of Citizen Radio and a blogger at The Nation, recently said:

“It’s clear [Republicans] know they can’t be overtly racist anymore … but they try to talk in code now. So instead of attacking minorities, attacking poor people of color, they attack programs that benefit those people.”

In order to divert attention away from their own rhetorical and legislative attacks on communities of color, and in an attempt to make their own racist public policies appear tame in comparison, many of these conservatives loudly condemn organizations or individuals whose overtly racial rhetoric or acts can provide them political cover.

For example, one of the Far Right’s favorite straw men is the Nazi Party and the “threat” of America devolving into a Third Reich state. This particular flavor of demagoguery helps conservatives create distance between themselves and more openly-racist ideologies, as they ostensibly disown racism while perpetuating it through public policy.

Leith, a small town in Grant County, North Dakota, has become the latest purveyor of straw men examples for the Far Right. Craig Cobb, a White supremacist who, in 2010, was charged with promoting hate for running a White supremacist website, has begun buying up property to create what he describes as a “Pioneer Little Europe” where other neo-Nazis could have the “freedom” to be White. After 300 protesters rallied against him, many of whom were Native Americans, Cobb said of them, “They’re loud, so what? They’re literally not human to me.”

Stories like this one allow more “mainstream” conservatives to declare, “See? That’s what racism looks like.” Ultimately, though, these stories hide these conservatives’ more veiled—but perhaps even more insidious—attempts at perpetuating discrimination and institutionalized racism though court rulings, public policies, and legislation. While the influence of neo-Nazis in Leith is largely limited to a small city with only a few dozen residents, Republican-supported congressional legislation cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), for example, has a devastating impact on communities of color throughout the country.

In the 2010 midterm elections, conservatives gained enough seats in the House to regain majority control of that body, and they’ve since done their best to oppose progressive social and economic legislation, from Obamacare to immigration reform.  As progressives committed to ending all forms of oppression and racial injustice, we must oppose not only the racism of neo-Nazi ideology but also the ways in which such rhetoric is repurposed by “mainstream” conservatives for the sake of legitimizing more insidious and targeted attacks on communities of color.

**Eric Ethington contributed to this post**

Profiles on the Right – Jim DeMint

Jim DeMint

Jim DeMint

Jim DeMint is the senior adviser to the Convention of States Project, former president of The Heritage Foundation, and a former Republican U.S Senator from South Carolina. In 2010, DeMint spearheaded Tea Party action. He looked to align the decentralized movement, calling it “part of an American awakening” and asserting people can “take back their government” and “No state is out of play.” Putting these words into action, DeMint then founded the political action committee, Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF). The SCF closely aligned itself with the Tea Party, raising $9.1 million to back successful first-time candidates Pat Toomey, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, and Marco Rubio in the 2010 U.S. Senate election. DeMint resigned from the Senate on New Year’s Day 2013 to become President of the Heritage Foundation. In this current role, he has arguably more power than he ever did as a politician. More recently, DeMint played a crucial role in both shaping public opinion against the Affordable Care Act and accelerating the subsequent federal shutdown.

Despite his moderate demeanor, DeMint has been regarded by supporters and enemies alike for his staunch conservative viewpoints, even receiving a 100% rating from the American Conservative Union in 2012. DeMint’s time in Congress made apparent his radical policy stances and adamant refusal to compromise.  In addition to helping the likes of Marco Rubio in 2010, DeMint supported Ted Cruz’s Senate bid in 2012. Cruz acknowledged DeMint’s influence, claiming “I would not be in the United States Senate if it were not for Jim DeMint.” And there is no doubt that DeMint benefited from such relationships as well—upon being sworn into the Senate, Cruz hired five former DeMint aides to his personal staff. As exemplified by his backing of candidates like Rubio and Cruz, DeMint is passionate in his far-right views and adamant to rid the Republican party of the few left who are willing to find common ground. Divisive behavior like this makes DeMint one of the most dangerous leaders on the far Right. Benjy Sarlin summed his legacy perfectly in noting “DeMint embodied the “party of no” label the GOP earned over the last four years, frequently leading filibusters to stymie President Obama’s agenda and often threatening to scuttle deals reached between the White House and Republican leaders.”

After being disillusioned by Democratic electoral success in 2012, DeMint elected to use a new approach to push conservative values. His work as a market researcher and his time in both Senate and Congress made him well aware of the impact major political lobbies and outside organizations have on U.S policy. The Heritage Foundation, a non-profit think tank whose mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies,” is a powerhouse for far-Right ideologies. The think tank has been prominently cited by many conservative policy makers, including John Boehner, Robert Novak, and Mike Lee. In addition to being widely cited, within the past two decades, the Heritage Foundation helped George W. Bush’s defend his nomination of Michael Mukasey for Attorney General and helped Newt Gingrich build a Republican majority in Congress back in the 90s by advising him on his “Contract With America.”

Despite earning over $75 million in annual operating revenue, the Heritage Foundation remains a tax-exempt organization. Though advertising itself as an independent research group, the Heritage Foundation’s work has been accused of being intentionally biased and lacking credibility.

DeMint was highly aware of the power his position granted him in implementing the conservative agenda. In an interview, he told NPR  “There’s no question in my mind that I have more influence now on public policy than I did as an individual Senator.” As one of the first politicians to claim that President Obama “gutted welfare reform”, he continued this rhetoric through the Heritage Foundation, making him a key player in the recent federal government shutdown. He has also spoken at the annual “Value Voters Summit” hosted by the Family Research Council, a radical Christian-right organization whose anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ stances have caused extensive damage.

Perhaps one of the most dangerous of DeMint’s strengths is his ability to portray himself as a moderate, despite extreme conservative views, an appearance he has worked to manufacture. As a political speaker, he tends to avoid radical rhetoric most often associated with the Tea Party, preferring to use assets such as the SCF to forward his ideologies. By presenting himself as rational and moderate, and regular appearances on liberal media programs such as The Daily Show, he has found success promoting the radical policy agenda of the far-right—as opposed to politicians like Michelle Bachmann or Allen West, who run a higher risk of alienating more moderate voters. His persuasive speaking abilities enable him to raise massive amount of money for conservative causes and candidates, greatly increasing his sphere of influence.

DeMint was forced to resign from the Heritage Foundation in May 2017 by the board, after a year of organizational chaos following his decision to align Heritage with Donald Trump. Insiders felt that he had turned Heritage from a respected think tank to a partisan, ideological tool of the Tea Party.

Since, DeMint has taken a new job as senior adviser to the Convention of States Project, a conservative group advocating a new constitutional convention that would cut back federal spending and power. Also, he has formed a new group, the Conservative Partnership Institute, that would providing training and support for conservative congressmen, Capitol Hill staffers and other activists in the nation’s capital.

But the Convention of States is more alarming. It has reported recruited 27 of the minimum 34 state legislatures in order to invoke Article V of the Constitution. If it succeeds, then there is nothing – according to various legal experts – to prevent a convention from completely rewriting the Constitution and Bill of Rights. And it would be completely open to abuse from various special interest groups. Many already seek to eliminate most taxes and prevent the government from carrying out many of its current functions, such as regulating interstate commerce and removing all the protections it provides to the public.

Next Profile*Britt Moorman and Gabe Meadow contributed to this profile.
Updated 5/8/2018.

Day 1 Values Voters Summit 2013 Live-Blog

Welcome to Political Research Associates’ live-blog of the 2013 Values Voters Summit in Washington DC. Refresh for updates!

9:00 a.m. EST:

Family Research Council opened the proceedings by proclaiming the government shutdown is merely a “slowdown,” similar to being stuck in “a perpetual TSA line.” He also had some stage hands come up to remove barracades that had been placed on the stage “by Obama.”

9:10 a.m. EST: 

Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee was introduced by FRC President Tony Perkins as “one of the original architects” of using a government shutdown to defund Obamacare. Lee himself lambasted Congress, blaming the widespread government disfunction on politicians forgetting to honor conservative values. Lee went on to thanks Republican Senator Ted Cruz for his work on beginning the shutdown. “We make no apologies, and we stand with you!”

Lee had an odd moment when he said conservatives “understand we’re not all on our own, we’re all in this together,” which was a line repeated over and over at the 2012 Democratic Convention by Democrats.

While many Republicans are pointing out that the more Republicans focus on anti-equality stances, Senator Lee charged right through, saying “the problem isn’t that conservatives focus too much on the family, the problem is that they don’t focus on the family enough.”

Lee then turned to public schools, claiming that “Poor people and poor children are trapped in public schools.” He added that he is working on new legislation right now, that will “break up the cartels holding our children hostage.”

Lee wrapped up by saying “The best economic growth doesn’t come from CEOs or Silicon Valley, it comes from a young couple back home in a church saying ‘I do.'”

9:40 a.m. EST: 

Senator Ted Cruz’s introducer lambasted Senator John McCain as a “fake conservative and fake Republican” for calling Sens Cruz’s and Lee’s shutdown tactics to repeal the Affordable Care Act “implausible.”

Cruz himself opened by slamming the Obama administration for “violating almost every single right in the Bill of Rights, except perhaps the third, although I expect them to start quartering soldiers in our homes any day soon.”

The scare tactics are flying quick. Cruz says that America has less than 10 years to “change things around before we go off the cliff into oblivion.”

One by one, three protesters stood and questioned Cruz on his immigration stances. They were quickly escorted from the room by security, and Cruz himself called them “paid Obama operatives.”

At least 9 individual protesters have now stood and interrupted Cruz’s speech. The audience has turned near-violent towards them. Waving bags and coats towards them.

Cruz threw down a challenge at Obama. Says if the president will answer questions from 10 Cruz-supporters for 1/2 an hour, Cruz will answer questions from Obama-supporters on TV.

Despite falling poll numbers for Cruz individually and lack of support for the shutdown, Cruz is doubling down. “We need to stand strong!”

10:10 a.m. EST

Senator Rand Paul takes the stage.

Sen Paul is starting out by saying the Muslims are attacking Christians all around the world. “This is a war. More than 40 million Muslims are ok with attacking Christians.”

Paul went on to say that the United States “is now arming those who attacked us on 9/11,” and “we need to take a stand against anyone who wants to aid the Muslims.” He also pointed the finger squarely against the Obama administration, saying the argument can be made that “they are directly funding those who are killing christians.”

Paul also made the point that the “War on Christianity” isn’t just abroad, but also here at home. He elaborated by pointing towards the Boston Bombings earlier this year. “These Islamic extremists didn’t target a mosque. They targeted us. Christians.”

Paul says Military actions can be useful, and that “we were right to go to war after 9/11.” But he also cautioned that “military actions can empower radical Islam. I think if we go into Syria that’s what it will do.”

Senator Paul is throwing a warning to Libya, Egypt and Syria. “The Middle-East used to be something beautiful, but they’ve got to police their radical Islamists.”

10:30 a.m. EST

Senator Marco Rubio takes the stage.

Rubio says the reason the country is suffering is “not just because of big government. The fundamental truth is that the economy cannot be strong unless we strengthen our values.”

Rubio acknowledges the analysts who have warned the conservatives that they cannot win national elections if they focus too much on social issues. “But we must continue because the American Dream depends on it.”

The Senator also ignored those who are being persecuted by laws passed by conservatives imposing their religion. “Who are we hurting? How do our values hurt anyone? We are tired of being told to keep our opinions to ourselves!”

Rubio closed by saying Americans must “pray to restore the American Dream.”

10:46 a.m. EST

Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina takes the stage. Says he wants to preach, and is throwing around “hallelujahs.”

Scott takes his first swing at President Obama, it’s over gay marriage. “We have a president who picks and chooses which laws he wants to enforce.” He’s referencing the administration’s decision not to enforce Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or the Defense of Marriage Act.

Not sure where the Senator is getting his math, but he’s claiming that even if Obamacare is fully implemented, there is no chance America will see a decrease in the rate of uninsured because of it.

Scott is also taking a swing at public education, saying “we cannot allow teachers and unions to stand in the way of educating our children.”

11:00 a.m. EST

Tony Perkins and Mark Levin take the stage.

Mark Levin says that the Supreme Court is letting Congress pass laws they have no authority to pass.

“The Supreme Court overturning Prop 8 is ABSOLUTE TYRANNY”

Levin says that “America is a blue state right now,” and the “only way to fix it is for the state legislatures to get involved.”

Levin is also advocating for returning the election of U.S. Senators to state legislatures. He says Obamacare never would have passed if things still worked that way, because Senators were ignoring the will of their state legislatures.

Today’s theme as heavily revolved around the idea that there are “fake Republicans” in the House of Reps and the Senate. Right now, Perkins and Levin are strongly warning any Republicans who don’t keep fighting to defund Obamacare, or who “trash” Sens Cruz and Lee. This is fascinating to watch, as every national poll shows the public turning extraordinarily sour on the shutdown and the fight to defund the ACA. Even Mike Lee’s home state of Utah has two polls out showing his favorability with his own voters has fallen 10 percent in the last week.

11:30 a.m. EST

Dr. Ben Carson taking the stage.

Carson is starting off with anti-abortion lines. Says that there “is no war on women. Women are getting all riled up because we won’t let them have an abortion. Ladies, we love you! The war is on your babies!”

Carson has moved on to gay marriage, and is enjoying a standing ovation when he says “don’t change the definition of marriage.” Interestingly enough, he says that gay couples should be able to “get legally bound” and have visitation/property rights etc.. “Just don’t change the definition of marriage.”

Fascinating to listen as Carson says it is “insulting” when liberals try to give black people “food and healthcare.”

Gasps from the audience as Carson says that “Obamacare is the worst thing in America since slavery. Because it’s enslaving the people.” He added later that “It was never about healthcare, it was about power and control.”

Listening to Ben Carson can only be done with your “twisted logic” hat on. He’s now arguing that “other countries aren’t afraid to proclaim their beliefs, why are we?” And yet just a moment ago he was arguing that America should not be following the lead of other countries.

12:00 p.m. Lunch Break. Sessions resume at 2:00 p.m. EST.

2:00 p.m. Back from lunch

The afternoon session kicked off with a video scaring parents by asking “what would happen if your child was forced to dress up like a transgender?”

Representative Paul Ryan didn’t attend in person, but sent in a video message saying “we need to protect our values in the 21st Century.”

2:05 p.m.

Former-Rep Allen West says that while President Obama was speaking at the anniversary of the March on Washington, all he could think of was “the millions of black babies who have been killed.”

According to West, opposing marriage equality “isn’t about hating others, it’s about protecting our own values.”

West opened his remarks reading the Bible story about Joseph and Pharaoh who saved the Egyptian people from famine. He’s arguing that they were wrong.

In an interesting twist from his opening remarks arguing against government programs, West used his later time to complain about government services that were closed due to the shutdown. 

“Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, please resign!”

2:25 p.m. EST Joel Rosenberg

Rosenberg is making some rather drastic comparisons. He says the U.S. economy is like the movie Titanic, “when there’s an iceberg in front of you, you don’t speed up.”

Nazi reference! Women who have abortions are just like the Nazis at Auschwitz. Anyone else remember how just a couple hours ago, Dr. Ben Carson said there’s no such thing as a GOP War on Women?

Rosenburg has spent the last 10 minutes lamenting about Iran’s belief that a messiah will return to bring about the end times. He’s apparently completely oblivious that every Christian in the room he’s talking to believes the same thing.

2:50 p.m. Townhall with Reps Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise

Scalise says that Obama is specifically targeting Christians with Obamacare, tryign to hurt them.

Gohmert says the shutdown has been the Democrats’ plan for years. He’s claiming that Republican congressmen have been doing nothing but caving to every single Democrats’ demand for years.

I’m thinking someone should let Gohmert know that while he’s claiming that the shutdown is the result of the Dems and the president, Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee took credit for it this morning.

That was odd. Congressman Jordan just compared the Obama Administration to King George. “Our ancestors had to get away from that to protect their religion, and so do we.”

Rep Jim Jordan says that the government shutdown will help the Republicans win back the Senate next year.

Gohmert: “I don’t believe the polls saying people blame the GOP for the government shutdown. People always hate Congress.” Not 5 minutes later, Gohmert then said the shutdown will end when Obama and the Democrats recognize that the public blames the Dems.

3:25 p.m. EST – Michelle Bachmann

Interesting, the other Representatives had to leave early to get back to the Hill for a vote. Why isn’t Bachmann there?

Incredible. Bachmann is recapping all of the things that are closed during the shutdown. She’s complaining that they’re closed and belittling the park rangers who are enforcing the shutdown she voted in favor of.

If there’s one thing about Michele Bachmann you can take away while listening to her, it’s how little she knows about anything. She is extraordinarily talented at whipping a crowd into a frenzy, but she has yet to clearly articulate a single policy initiative.

“Obamacare will become known as Deathcare.”

3:45 p.m. EST – Alveda King

Quick note before Alveda King (the niece of Martin Luther King Jr.) starts: the rest of the King family have denounced her and her false claims about MLK’s “anti-choice” beliefs.

Alveda is blaming the Southern Poverty Law Center for the shooting at the FRC’s headquarters last year, because SPLC spreads “lies” (they’ve labeled FRC an official Hate Group) about them and once published their address.

Alveda also referred to gay people as “sexual persions” and said that birth control pills are “poison. Girls need them like they need a hole in their heads.”

4:00 p.m. EST – Gary Bauer

Bauer says our country is being “killed by the radical left.” Says the radical left and the radical islamists want to destroy Christians in order to remake the nation.

He is also adding that Christianity has “always taken piece and tolerance” with it wherever it has gone.

Bauer’s speech sound like he thinks it’s 2011 again. He’s hitting all the highlights, including “that promiscuous co-ed Sandra Fluke.”

Attention has now turned to Wendy Davis of Texas-filibuster fame. Bauer claims that Wendy was fighting for better access to 8-month abortions.

While half of the speakers today have been praising Senators Cruz and Lee for creating the government shutdown, the other half are busy blaming Obama. You would have though the Family Research Council would have gotten them all onto one side or another.

Nice for those of us who are liberals in the audience to get a chuckle. Bauer forgot where he was and said “right here in Chicago, folks.” (We’re in D.C.)

4:28 p.m. EST – Sandy Rios

Rios is kicking things off by mocking the Southern Poverty Law Center by reading a letter written by them to Congressmen and Senators asking them not to attend the Summit. It probably wasn’t a good idea, the letter was extremely well written about why FRC and AFA demonizes LGBT people. Feels like the audience kinda liked it.

It’s always hilarious to hear people who work for hate groups (in this case the American Family Association) whine about those who call them out for their work.

Rios is telling the audience not to listen to gay family members. “That would be like having a cousin who is a doctor and thinking you understand medicine.” she also is blaming propaganda from the media for any support for LGBT rights.

I can’t lie, I am quivering with rage right now. Rios is now claiming that the story of Matthew Sheppard is a fraud.

4:52 p.m. EST – Rick Santorum

In not a huge surprise, Santorum is spending his first few minutes pimping his new film projects, including showing a trailer for his film. Guess he needs more money.

Santorum hasn’t missed a beat since getting trounced in the GOP 2012 primaries. “We don’t need to listen to the polls, we know the truth!”

It’s statements like this that perpetuate the stereotypes that the Right isn’t intelligent: “The Left has pie charts and line graphs, we need to tell people stories!”

Most of Santorum’s speech has just involved screaming random words. The only point he’s managed to make for a while is that the economic struggle our country faces means nothing unless, apparently, we can stop gay marriage from moving forward.

Interestingly enough, Santorum got the biggest standing ovation of the night.. after he said that when it comes to his anti-gay and anti-abortion views, he “really means it.”

7:40 EST – Bishop E.W. Jackson

Jackson says he will never apologize for being opposed to marriage equality.

Jackson is giving more of a campaign speech than anything real. Lot’s of freedom juice and liberty syrup.

Every bit of research produced shows that discrimination against LGBTQ people causes suicides at alarming rates. Bishop Jackson says he can’t stand gay people, but he really wants to do something about teen suicides by strengthening marriage between one-man and one-woman.

Outside of Obamacare, there hasn’t been much of “moochers and takers” rhetoric today. But Bishop Jackson just said “We care about poor people, and we care about Hispanics. But the difference is that we don’t want them to rely on us.”

Jackson also announced that except for Jesus Christ, America is the greatest gift every given to mankind. Adding quickly after, “we’re not trying to force anything on anybody,” which is true, if you don’t count his religion and “values.”

8:02 p.m. EST – Mike Huckabee

Huckabee is being introduced by Rick Scarborough, the man who said that AIDS is a punishment to gay people from God, and that God killed Americans in Bengahzi as a “warning for pornography.”

Scarborough says people told Huckabee his candidacy was doomed from the start, but “he proved them wrong.” Apparently no one told him that Huckabee lost almost immediately in the race.

Huckabee’s spending quite a bit of time on Benghazi. Says he would not be surprised if someday we discover that illegal weapons were being sent from Syria to Libya and were captured by terrorists.”

After getting trounced in the 2012 elections, Republicans have obviously learned their lesson. They’re not changing any policies, of course, but Huckabee is the third or fourth speaker tonight to completely co-opt the Democrats’ line from their 2012 convention: “Democrats are saying that ‘you’re on your own,’ we want to say We’re All In This Together!”

Huckabee also took a little dip into the anti-transgender pool. Bringing up the old favorite about hos “Boys are now showering with girls” scare tactic.

8:27 p.m. EST – Jim DeMint

DeMint opened with 3 jokes, one on the IRS, one on the NRA, and one on Obamacare. Not a single one got a laugh.

We just had the biggest WHAT?! moment of the night, as DeMint said “We would be violating others’ civil liberties if we were to try and force our values and beliefs on them.”

DeMint is focusing his speech on love (“and not the liberal mushy gibberish kind”). It’s almost disgusting, in a calm and clear voice, he’s co-opted the entire liberal message about the importance of embracing diversity, never forcing your opinions, and respecting different beliefs. The irony, of course, is that is opposite of the mission of the Heritage Foundation, which he now heads.

DeMint also lauded trans-vaginal ultrasounds, despite the rape-like pain and trauma they put women through.. because hopefully “once a woman sees a picture, they’ll change their minds.”

8:45 p.m. EST – Marriage Panel

Starting off is Jennifer Marshall from the Heritage Foundation.who says that America has to now defend not only against gay marriage, but “we have to fight against our kids being indoctrinated in schools.”

Ryan Anderson from the Heritage Foundation is also hitting the “men have penises and women have vaginas” argument, but he’s adding a bit of a twist on it. According to Anderson, “there’s no such thing as ‘parenting.’ But only ‘mothering’ and ‘fathering,’ each have their own specific roles.”

It took Anderson less than 3 minutes to start equating Marriage Equality to polygamy. He also started making some weird claims, such as gays and lesbians wanting “marriage leases,” which only last a couple years. Maybe I’m being naive, but has anyone else ever heard of this happening?

NOM’s Brian Brown is also speaking, is spending quite a bit of time complaining that media outlets such as CNN and ABC rarely let him on their shows anymore.

It’s worth pointing out that more than a third of the entire audience walked out before Brian Brown and this panel started. Presumably they’re headed to the book signings by Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.

The audience has died down so much that Ryan Anderson couldn’t even get applause on his applause line, he stopped, then said “there should be applause for that,” before getting a meager clapping.

The panel died pretty quickly, and Tony Perkins cut it off early.

That’s it for us tonight, thanks for following along! Join us again tomorrow morning at 9am ET for Day2 of our live-blog and live-tweeting of the 2013 Values Voters Summit.